Research Resources


Gale Cengage ebooks

Find Articles

Gale Search

Internet Public Library


MLA Guidelines

The Writer's Handbook

Tips for
Avoiding Plagiarism

Citation Maker

Library of Congress


Internet History Source Books Project

Primary Sources

Novel Guide

Overlooked Resources

Planning Your Research

Questions to ask your self as you begin your research process...

1. For what PURPOSE is the research being done?
What do you want to be able to say as a result of the research? For example, you may want to know:
"How does hot air rise?"
"Which perspective do I agree with?"
"Why is a president's term only four years?"

2. What KINDS OF INFORMATION are needed to make the point that you want to make?
For example, do you need to gather information about:
How does something work?
What do people think
of something?
Or why certain events happened in history?
The How, What, and Whys are all very important things to determine before you start your research.

3. From WHAT sources should the information be collected?
If you are researching people's opinions, then a magazine or newspaper may be a good source of information. However, if you are researching an academic subject, e.g.: history or science, then scholarly sources, like encyclopedias or other reference books, would be your most reliable sources. Some Websites, such as sites ending in .gov, .edu, and/or .org may be reliable sources of information too. (Please see the Ten C's page for guidelines on evaluating a web-site for reliability).

4. Who is your AUDIENCE?
If it a casual write-up for friends to read, then you want to plan to use an informal writing style (first person and MILD use of slang words). If you are planning to write a formal paper that your teacher will read, then you will want to use a formal style of writing (third person, no slang or abbreviations, and formal citation of your references according to MLA format).

5. WHEN is the information needed?
This is a very important aspect to consider when forming a paper. It is a good idea to sit down and to write out 2 lists before starting the research for your paper:

1. A list of things that you have to do in order to get your research done.
2. And a list of your available study time.

With these 2 lists, it is a good idea to put them side by side and decide when you are going to get your work done in the amount of time that you have.
You may want to time yourself in how long it takes you to find a paper and/or how long it takes you to finish reading one article or chapter. This way you will be able to better manage your time by knowing how long you will need to read 3 articles, etc.

6. What RESOURCES are available to collect the information?
If it is really hard for you to get to a library to use certain resources then you may not want to do a report that requires a lot of factual information. Instead, you may want to try and do a paper that relies more on public opinion (if you are able to choose), which comes more from newspapers and magazines. If you have access to the internet, you can find all sorts of information from newspaper and magazine articles to primary sources and journal articles. See the links to the left for more help and information.

Research suggestion
First, it is a good idea to know your terms...knowing them can make researching much easier.
Keyword: Usually one word that summarizes a topic very well; sometimes there could be keywords.
Topic: A subject, like of a paper or of a thought; a theme, a paragraph, an issue, a focus or the point of a paper.
Phrase: A brief expression, sometimes a single word, but usually two or more words forming an expression by themselves; a portion of a sentence;
Citation: A short note giving credit to the original author, or something that tells where you got your quote or idea from.
Abstract: A summary of the main points of a paper. If you are searching for a research article, then it is easier to read through abstracts rather than entire articles.

Summary of steps for starting your research
1. Choose your topic.
2. Determine keywords or phrases that will help you search for information.
3. Find out the information requirements for the research, like which types of sources are needed.
4. Which kind of audience will you be writing for? Should sources be popular or scholarly? This will help you determine where you will need to gather information from.
5. Do you need current information or historical information and how much?
6. Sit down and make a timeline of getting your research done.

Next steps for turning your research into an essay
7. Gather research from books, periodicals, and/or Internet sources.
8. Next sit down and make an outline of what you plan to write about. Remember to give supporting details and to make citations of where you got your information from.
9. Write a rough draft
10. Ask a friend, teacher or parent read your rough draft. Also, ask them to add suggestions.
11. Write a final draft and turn in.

Remember not to be shy in asking for any help at any time
from teachers and media specialists!

A research project, whether it is a traditional paper, a video, or a media presentation, is the end product of a thinking process that involves student-centered questioning or inquiry.

Research is a life skill. We are always seeking information. What car or stereo should I buy? Which college should I choose? Which book should I read next? How can I sell this idea to my boss? How can I convince the school board to act on my proposal? Should I have this surgery? Our ability to use information helps us reach conclusions, make decisions, and communicate more effectively.

Just as the careful car stereo buyer may "research" Consumer Reports and ask friends for comments about which model is the best, the careful student researches a topic in the process of thinking through his or her project. It is important to triangulate information by checking a variety of sources. The car or stereo buyer may consult as many different, reliable sources as possible, makes notes, asks questions, consults additional sources, develops a point of view based upon all of the information he has found. As students gather information to reach a conclusion or support a hypothesis, they develop lifelong skills of information fluency.

Information fluency is the ability to access, evaluate, use and synthesize information from multiple formats, and to ethically create and share new knowledge in any of a variety of media. Information fluency is a set of competencies, skills that will grow with students, even when current operating systems, search tools, or platforms are obsolete. Information problem-solving skills are required across all disciplines.

The research process and the writing process are connected. Research is of little value unless you can effectively communicate your new knowledge. The same skills that you use to write an expository paper are used to develop the research paper or a project in any medium. Asking solid questions, developing a clear and focused thesis, sketching an outline or a storyboard, drafting, revising, peer reviewing, and editing all are steps with which you are already familiar. The research process is recursive. Although we describe steps, you will find yourself going back and forth among the steps, returning to several as you refine your work.